Mac freeze-ups have never put a smile on anyone’s face. It’s beyond frustrating when you are trying to complete a project (or simply watch YouTube in your spare time) and your MacBook starts acting up. Suddenly, you can’t use the keyboard, can’t move your cursor, can’t log in, and can’t shut off.
You’re not alone!
As MacBook advocates for more than a decade (yes, we’ve owned and tested every model since the first MacBook came out), we’ve probably encountered more freezing problems than you. Fortunately, we’ve managed to learn ways that help unfreeze Apple computers.
Below we are going to share the solutions we’ve discovered along our journey, and you are going to learn:
- Why your MacBook keeps on freezing.
- Steps to unfreeze a MacBook computer and make it work again.
- Bonus tip to mitigate the risk of future freezes.
The tactics below may also apply to other types of Mac computers such as iMac, Mac Mini Air/Pro, etc.
Why Does My MacBook Freeze Over and Over Again?
MacBooks are fairly smooth, reliable devices. But running apps with symptoms of being unresponsive can cause them to freeze. Other times, macOS may hang up because there are too many items auto-launching upon startup.
There could be other reasons, as well. For example, your MacBook may freeze when it runs out of hard drive space. Or when it has to use the disk instead of RAM. Like with any computer, when too much is stored, and too many processes are eating up the computer’s memory, you’ll be stuck with a static screen and your beloved MacBook won’t respond to your clicks (or plea!).
5 Steps to Fix a Frozen Mac (Without Losing Your Work)
Now that you have some knowledge of the reasons behind MacBook freeze-ups, here’s how to unfreeze your computer and make it work and speed up again.
Note though, the solutions we list below only work when your MacBook can boot up in a normal state. If it cannot, or there are weird sounds coming from the device (especially from its internal components), call Apple Support or make an appointment with a Genius Bar representative in your locality.
If your MacBook starts up fine but keeps freezing, follow these steps:
1. Force Quit Unresponsive Apps
When an app becomes unresponsive, wait a while to see if it unfreezes by itself. If nothing happens after a few minutes, try force quitting the application. To do this, put your cursor on the application icon in the dock, right click, and choose “Quit” from the pop-up menu.
Another way to close unresponsive apps is to use the Force Quit window. You should leverage this method when you’re unable to access the dock. Here are the steps:
- Press Option, Command, and Esc keys together
- Select the unresponsive app (the blue bar highlights which app is currently selected)
- Click Force Quit at the bottom right of the window
If your Command, Option, or Esc key is damaged, you can click the Apple logo at the top left of your screen. This will open up a menu that’ll let you open the same Force Quit window on your Mac.
If force quitting doesn’t work and your MacBook fails to respond, force a computer restart by pressing and holding the Power Button on your system. After it reboots, delete and reinstall the application. This should fix the problem of MacBook keeps freezing. If it doesn’t – read on.
2. Remove Third-Party Extensions from Safari
While browsing Apple Support Community threads (which is a habit of ours), we discovered that some users experience the MacBook keeps freezing issue when they launch Safari on their computers.
And we immediately knew why – third party extensions.
From the plugins and extensions available for Safari, there are some which are incompatible with the web browser. This incompatibility could be the reason why Safari is causing your MacBook to freeze. Remove the third-party extensions you’ve recently installed to see if it fixes the issue. Here’s how to do that:
- Launch Safari, then click the Safari menu at the top of the screen
- Choose Preferences
- Click the Extensions tab and uninstall the extensions you recently installed
Removing incompatible extensions should resolve the browser keeps freezing issue. But if the problem still persists, try the remaining steps below.
3. Free Up RAM and Hard Drive Space
Low RAM and hard drive space could also be the reason why your MacBook keeps freezing. You can quickly fix this by using a MacBook optimizing app like CleanMyMac X. The tool keeps track of how much RAM you’re consuming and allows you to free up some with a click.
It also lets you remove all the necessary files that occupy space on your hard drive: cache files, leftover applications, email attachments, and so on. This gives you the opportunity to create extra space on your disk without deleting any of your important files. You can even remove outdated iOS device software updates, backups, and other supporting data (check out our post on cleaning up MacBook Pro hard drive to learn what else to delete) .
Plus, CleanMyMac X allows you to optimize your MacBook’s output by running the login items you truly need and preventing improperly running apps from distorting its processes. System extensions like plugins, dictionaries, widgets, and other items can also be removed on demand.
Besides letting you free up space, the tool also lets you fix broken apps, delete malware from your computer, and improve your privacy by removing traces of your online activity.
Before CleanMyMac X, the only way to free up RAM and hard disk space was to delete data manually. Thankfully, the tool by MacPaw Inc. makes the job easy.
4. Update macOS
Using new applications on an old operating system could cause Mac freezes too – and so could the bugs present in the system. Fortunately, Apple lets Mac users download application and software updates for free, which might turn out to be the ultimate solution for your freezing problems.
To see what updates are available for your macOS, open the Mac App Store on your MacBook and click “Updates.”
One note on updates though – sometimes, they come with problems of their own, so make sure to back up your computer using Time Machine or an external hard drive. In the rare scenario where the update makes the freezing issue worse, you can go back to the old macOS until Apple fixes the problems in the new release.
5. Run a Hardware or Apple Diagnostics Test
The final step is to look for potential hardware problems with Apple’s built-in components. Pre-2013 MacBook models can be diagnosed using the Apple Hardware Test. Newer MacBooks can be tested with the Apple Diagnostics Test. To find out the year of your MacBook, click the Apple icon on the top left and choose About This Mac.
Once you’ve discovered your MacBook’s model, follow the instructions from Apple. As the process involves turning off your device, you may want to print a copy of the instructions or access them from your iPhone.
If any issues are discovered, Apple will suggest solutions and share reference codes. Note them down before proceeding further. You can later use the codes with Apple support to identify the best solution for your MacBook keeps freezing issue.
MacBook freeze-ups are downright frustrating. While paying for an SSD upgrade or buying a totally new MacBook can resolve the problem for good, there are a few simple things you can do to see if the MacBook stops freezing. Check to see if your hard drive full or if you’re using unresponsive apps on your computer. While the solutions we recommend are not full proof, they have helped several MacBook owners and are worth a shot. Hopefully one of them will unfreeze your MacBook so you can continue using it for whatever purpose you may need it for.
That being said, make sure to prevent future freeze-ups through low CPU usage and optimization tools like CleanMyMac X.